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Full text of "A discourse on preaching the Word : delivered in the chapel of the Theological Seminary, Andover, Mass. .."

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JUL 2 1968 






pi]1{LI6Hi;d at the request of the stuuksts 






Flagg & Gould, Printers. 


The following Discourse was first delivered before the General Association 
of Connecticut, at their session in New Haven, June 17,18*28; and recently 
bef>ro the Conference of Cliurches of the Northern District of Essex county, 
at Hyfield, Mass. 


2 TnioTiiv 4: 2. — Pkkach the Word. 

While Paul was in prison at Rome, "ready to be ofl'ered" 
in martyrdom for the faith of Jesus, he addressed to Timothy his 
dying counsels ; the results of his own experience in the work of 
the ministry, during his long and devoted life. They are worthy 
of such a minister of Christ as Paul was, standing on the borders 
of the grave, and just going to his solemn account. He seemed 
designing them to be, — and they were, — a solemn conclusion of 
his labours for his Lord, and for the souls of men. They served 
to shew how he would continue to labour, might his life be spar- 
ed ; and in what manner he would that his brethren after him 
should preach, to the end of the world. Among diese dying 
counsels we find the text. 

It does not seem the apostle's design, in this direction, simply 
to advise his young brother to continue in the ministry ; nor that 
he should preach the gospel, in distinction only from gross heresy, 
" another gospel," " doctrines of devils." There was little or no 
necessity for such advice to Timothy. 

By reference to other passages of Paul's wi-itings we get light 
on his particular design in the direction. We find him cautioning 
Timothy against " striving about words, to no profit ;" against 
" giving heed to fables, and endless genealogies, which minister 
questions, radier Uian godly edifying ;" against " oppositions of 
science, falsely so called, which," says he, " some professing, 
have erred from the faith ;" against " turning aside unto vain 
jangling," and " dotuig about questions and strifes of words, 
whereof cometh envy, strife, railing, evil surmisings, and perverse 

disputings." And farther, — for he was obviously anxious for the 
honour of Christ, and the good of his Christian brethren, as con- 
cerned in this subject, — ^vve find him enjoining, " hold fast the form 
of sound words ;" " Beware lest any man spoil you through phi- 
losophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the ru- 
diments of the world, and not after Christ." And again says he 
to Timothy, " but foolish and unlearned (i. e. unprofitable) ques- 
tions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes." 

Taking Paul, then, as his own interpreter, his counsel to Tim- 
othy, in the text, respects the matter of his preaching, in those 
things in which he might err otherwise than in preaching gross her- 
esy ; and in which he might be in danger of running into error, as 
a final result. The apostle had seen some of the churches per- 
plexed and divided, by preachers who departed from the simphc- 
ily of the gospel, and wasted time and strength, in controversies 
and preaching on points of minor importance, ending in lamenta- 
ble defection from the trutji, and injury to the churches. There- 
fore he gives his young brother the affectionate and solemn in- 
junction, — " I charge thee, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, 
who shall judge the quick and dead, at his appearing and his 
kingdom, preach the word." By this, he apparently means 
the great, fundamental, and yet simple instructions of the bible ; 
to preach, as he elsewhere expresses it, " the cross," " Christ 
Jesus and him crucified," — " the unsearchable riches of Christ :" 
to do this, studiously avoiding whatever was " unprofitable and 
vain," and irrelevant to the great objects of " the ministry of re- 
conciliation." He would go all lengths with any of his bretliren, 
in studying and preaching " the mystery of godliness," and " con- 
lending for the faith once delivered unto the saints." He shew- 
ed, too, how well he could put forth his powers for these purpos- 
es, when occasion required. But he had no taste for heartless 
philosophizing. He would " preach down error," and preach up 
the truth, by " preaching the word." He would enlighten the ig- 
norant, "win souls" to Christ, edify the people of God, and aid 
the prosperity of Christ's kingdom, by " preaching the word." 

It is not difficult to discover the bearing of Paul's great prin- 
ciples on the dangers and mistakes of some ministers, even, upon 

this subject. The history of the Church infornis us of nincfi of 
the kind of preaching whicli was to great and good purpose ; and 
of many well contested victories of the friends of the truth, over 
errorists and dieir heresies. But it also acquaints us with subjects 
and modes of preaching, which occasioned a miserable waste of 
some good men's time and labours, in the study and in the pulpit ; 
hindered them from giving the kind of instruction adapted to be 
" spirit and life" to men's souls ; and j)repared the way for the 
coming in of errors in sentiment and practice, "like a flood." It 
tells us of unhappy conti-oversies, commencing on unessential 
points, about which Paul and Peter themselves might have differ- 
ed in sentiment, and yet neither of them have been a heretic ; 
but which resulted in the defection of one or the other from " the 
truth as it is in Jesus." 

The feelings and views of Paul, therefore, which led him to 
exhort Timothy to "preach the word" in distinction from the 
things he named, would probably lead him to exhort us, at the 
present day, to " preach the word," in distinction from preaching 
opinions, dogmas, or speculations ; in distinction from threading, — 
in the pulpit, or out of it, — the mazes of philosophical or meta- 
physical theology ; in distinction from preaching " about a truth, 
and about it," as once said an excellent man, " but not preaching 
it : preaching the word in distinction from preaching on proposi- 
tions which are, at best, of a doubtful character, as to their accor- 
dance with the scriptures, and in all probability startling and per- 
plexing to many Christians ; and in distinction from preaching 
conjectures, which, it is true, may lie somewhere in the neigh- 
bourhood of the truth, but, respecting which, there is all the un- 
certainty of course attached to conjecturing, in theology, as well 
as in any thing else. Well might Paul have asked, — and it be- 
comes every minister to ask, — 'What have these things to do with 
preaching the word ? with setting forth " Christ Jesus and him 
crucified ?" ' And what may not the spending of time and strength 
upon them have to do with bringing in great errors, both in faith 
and practice ? 

Farther light is cast on the direction in the text, if we recur to 
the preaching of our Sa\ iour, the prophets, and apostles : allow- 

ins; for the fuels, that Christ was the Great Author of all truth, 
and that the prophets and apostles were hispired men. 

Our Saviour was in the practice of setting forth the testimony 
of the scriptures; prefacing and interweaving his instructions with 
" thus it is written," " as it is written," " as the scripture hath 
said." When the muhitudes gathered around him, he " preached 
the word unto them." In the synagogue at Nazareth, he exhibit- 
ed the direct and solemn instructions of the bible. When, after 
his resurrection, he would shew to two of his disciples that it " be- 
hoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead," to accomplish 
the redemption of sinners ; he confined himself to " the word" for 
liis whole argument ; " beginning at Moses and all the prophets, 
he expounded unto them, in all the scriptures, the things concern- 
ing himself." This he did too, notwithstanding he could have 
produced conviction in their minds by a much shorter process, 
and " in the twinkling of an eye." For he would put honour 
upon the word, as the only sure guide of men's inquiries respect- 
ing the truth, and as the only rule of their faith. A striking les- 
son to us, proud spirited men, so prone to " lean to our own un- 
derstandings," and to rely on the strength of our own reasonings, 
instead of the sim})]e testimony of the scriptures. 

The prophets cast light on the text, by their example. It is 
very noticeable how uniformly they prefaced and interspersed their 
instructions with " Thus saith the Lord." They felt that they were 
responsible for a faithful delivery of the exact message God had 
conuiiitted to them ; and they steadily answered that responsibility. • 

The apostles, also, were in the habit of basing all their instruc- 
tions upon the teachings of the Holy Ghost, recorded in the Old 
Testament, or given du-ectly to them by inspiration. When they 
would set forth a doctrine, they did it by " shewing from the 
scriptures," what was truth. Wherever we find them, tliey are 
"preacliing the word." They did not deal either in undefended 
assertions ; but followed them v/ith expositions of proofs ; " testi- 
fied," " opened," " expounded," " reasoned out of the scriptures," 
to men, in " persuading them concerning the Lord Jesus." 

Tlie text is yet furdier illustrated, in the preaching and writing 
of many ministers, of former times, and of the present. Tiiere is 
a richness in the works of such men as Flavel, Owen, Baxter, 

Edwards, Cecil, and nniny others, o( llicir limes and ours ; which 
will make them to he read hy Christians, with satisfaction and 
profit ; and by unconverted persons with seriousness and feeling ; 
till " time shall be no longer." Wiial is the secret of this ? Not 
so much their talents for argumentation, powerful conception, or 
eloquent expression ; though they had all these. It was their 
having enriched their minds, and thus their preaching, from that in- 
exhaustible store-house of divine instruction — " the word of God." 

The design of Paul's direction, then, we trust, is clear. It en- 
joins on us to set forth, in the instructions of the pulpit, the riches 
of" the scriptures of truth." 

The subject is closely connected with the piosperiiy of die 
cause of truth, and with ministerial usefulness. Let me invite to 
it your serious and earnest attention, — my brethren of this Semi- 
nary, anticipating an entrance upon the sacred office. The text, 
and the explanatoiy facts and passages adduced, set forth a prin- 
ciple, to be kept in mind in all your course of preparatory studies 
here, and to govern you in all your future studies and ministra- 
tions. It is proposed, in this discourse, to shew the preparatives for 
))reaching the word, in the sense of the expression set forth ; and 
the reasons for making this the object of our studies, and the 
great characteristic of our instructions. 

I. We consider some of the preparatives for preaching the 
word. I speak here of habits of mind, and modes of study, as 
separate from a plan or course of theological education. 

1. It is important to have a conscientious reference to the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit, in all our studies. It was one of 
Paul's fraternal benedictions to Timothy, " The Lord give thee 
tmderstanding in all diings." It is our privilege to use tliis as our 
prayer, every hoiu- of our studies. We " lack wisdom," and must 
" ask of God." This we nuist do humbly ; for there are no 
promises to pride ; and it is to the humble that the Spirit vouch- 
safes his teachings. We must do it in a willingness to know the 
truth, whatever it is ; for a mind reluctant to be convinced, of 
whatever God is pleased to declare for our instruction, will remain 
in ignorance and darkness. It must be done in an implicit sub- 
mission to the divine teachings ; for it does not comport with the 

object God has in view, iu tlie revelation of his will to men, that 
on this point they make any reservation. The frame of spirit with 
which a student or pastor should open his bible, should ever be, 
' What God declares, I w\U implicitly receive.' Such prayer 
God will answ^er. Such frames of feeling he will bless. It is a 
precious promise, for the encouragement of those who thus ask, 
" He, the Spirit of ti'uth, will guide you into all trutli." 

An inestimable privilege it is, for a minister, in the conscious- 
ness that he is frail and fallible, in his researches for instruction, 
for himself and his people, frequently to lift up the ejaculations, 
" That which I see not, teach thou me ;" " Lead me into thy 
truth, and teach me, for thou art my God ;" " Oh ! send out thy 
light and thy truth." Those who thus commit themselves to di- 
vine teaching and guidance, may rest confidently on another prom- 
ise, also ; " And ye shall know the truth." And what are all the 
satisfactions, ministered to the soul of any man, by his " reason- 
ing pride," compared wdth those of him, who thus waits on God 
for teaching ; and finds the truth, as his reward. 

In this connexion, I would remark, my brethren, that we do 
well to use the bible as our prayer book, in our closets ; that we 
may enjoy its light in our studies. The scriptures never so beain 
with light, nor are disclosed in such beauty and glory, nor take 
such hold on the soul, as when read and turned into prayer, at the 
footstool of the " throne of grace." The light, beaming from that 
throne, seems to shine down upon the sacred page ; and will help 
us, both to get instruction for our own good, and to judge wisely 
what we are to bring forth for the good of those to whom we min- 
ister. Of all the modes of studying the bible, this is the best. 
We should, in suitable proportion, study it philologically and 
theologically. But to study it prayerfully, is the method upon 
which is to be placed most reliance. This must prepare us to 
study subjects ; to write our sermons ; to preach in the pulpit ; 
and then to preach in our " manner of life."* 

* On the depciidance of our prpiiiirations for the pulpit upon prayer, it is a 
^tril;in<r remark of tlic pious Martin JJoos; " Those arc not the best sermons 
about which we have most anxiously laboured ; but those which we iiave beg- 
j{ed of Iho Lord, with ])rayer.s uiul tears." 

2. On all subjects of religious instruction, we should have a care- 
ful recourse to the scriptures, for information respecting them. 
This is of such importance, that it may be safely asserted, — when 
you find in what manner, and how much, a minister uses his bible, 
in his study, as well as his closet, you may know what kind of 
preacher he is. " We have a sure word of prophecy, whereunto 
we do well that we take heed, as imto a light that shineth in a 
dark place." 

Do we know what or how we should preach, hut from " the 
word ?" When a minister is to prepare a sermon, where is he to 
get his subject, but here ? When he has chosen it, what does he 
know respecting it, from intuition, or his own opinions, medita- 
tions, or speculations ; or from reading what other men have writ- 
ten ? What has he to do, what can he do, till he has devoutly 
and teaclifibly inquired for the mind of God upon his subject, 
as revealed in the sacred scriptures ? Our Lord commands us, 
" Search the Scriptures." " Have ye never read ?" he was 
accustomed sometimes to ask men ; reproving thus their inatten- 
tion to " the word," and indicating the importance he attached to 
it, as the source of instruction. The minister of the gospel is 
called to follow his subject over the pages of the bible, as his first 
and main business ; asking, " What is written in tlie law ? how 
readest thou ?" " What saith the scripture ?" anfl " holding fast 
the faithful word," as that alone which can shew him what he is to 
receive himself, and teach to others. 

When he has thus gathered the instructions of the scriptures 
on the subject in hand, he has obtained light, which will not fail 
him ; materials for a sermon, worth using ; a foundation on which 
to build his ov\ti faith and that of his people, which nothing can 
shake ; instructions " more to be desired than gold, yea, than 
much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey, and the honey comb." 
This is the course which Paul pronounced " noble," in the Bere- 
ans ; and which God ever richly rewards. To such a searcher 
of the scriptures, the bible, as the " witness of God," has declar- 
ed " the truth." Having set this forth, he is prepared to say to 
his hearers, fearlessly, " Search the scriptures, whether these things 


are so." And never let man's " reasoning pride" ask to be made 
wise in any other way than through such testimony. 

By no means do we advocate using the bible without study ; nor 
plead for a minister to have the privilege of spending his life, in 
compiling from his bible, weekly concordances of texts upon the 
subjects he chooses ; nor is it expedient to bring into the pulpit 
the minutice of criticism, belonging in the study. We advocate 
going to the bible to get the materials for thinking, — laborious, 
serious, devout thinking, — materials obtained in a careful mterpre- 
tation of the various passages of scripture which belong to the sub- 
ject in hand ; and in the use of which materials, a minister shall 
help his hearers to think, to know what is the truth, to feel the 
obligations of duty, and to be savingly profited. 

" Preaching the word " does not, of course, suppose that we 
deal principally, or alone, in the language of scriptunfb There 
may be, in sermons, lucid exhibitions of divine truth, with scarce 
a formal quotation of scripture in them. But the happy art is un- 
doubtedly to be cultivated, which some preachers have, of so inter- 
weaving the rich and powerful language of scripture, as to give 
life, light, and force to every paragraph of a sermon. 

Some sermons seen^. to have been written by men who have 
a general acquaintance with the bible. Sermons which are de- 
signed to do good to immortal souls, my brethren, should show 
that the preacher has filled his heart and mind with the instruc- 
tions of the word upon the subjects he presents ; and that he has 
prayed them into his whole frame of feeling. 

3. A supreme interest should be felt in the study of the scrip- 
tures. What books ought to interest any man, especially a min- 
ister, like the word of God ? In what study should his heart de- 
light, so much as in this? What discussions of even religious 
truth, should possess for him half the interest with which he 
should regard the revelations of the Holy Ghost ? We have great 
occasion to be suspicious that all is not right in the state of our 
hearts, if we find ourselves inclined to read the books of men, 
rather than the book of God ; or tb follow the path of some favo- 
rite speculation, rather than the path of divine truth, as marked 
out in the scriptures. Not tliat we are to deny ourselves the 


pleasure and profit of reading the works of good men, both an- 
cient and modern ; nor to refrain from investigating and drawing 
upon tlie resources of our own minds, by pure thinking. But we 
should have such feelings respecting the holy bible, that we shall 
pass from our highest efforts of mind, and from the reading of the 
books of tlie greatest and best men, to " the word," saying in 
ourselves, — ' after all, this is the book ; here is the source of im- 
pulses to diought ; here are the aids to reflection.' The clear and 
powerful argumentation, the commanding eloquence, the captivat- 
ing elegance, and the lofty conceptions, of some writers and preach- 
ers, are all good in theii* place. But how far, immeasurably far, 
are they exceeded, by David and Isaiah, Paul and John, and their 
brethren and companions, in the communication of " the mind of 
the Spirit." It has been justly said, by a favourite Christian poet, 
— and ever should the student and minister feel the force of the 
sentiment, — 

•' A irlory gilds the sjicred page, 

Majestic, like the sun ; 
It gives a light to every age, — 

It gives — but borrows none." 

Had the Most High honoured our world witii the gift of one 
man to dwell in it, on whom he had bestowed the talents and the 
heart of Gabriel ; yet we might truly say, Uiat in the contempla- 
tion of this book, he would find ample range for the powers of his 
mighty mind, and inestimable matter of interest for his angelic 
heart. We have no reason, indeed, to doubt, that these same rev- 
elations of tlie word to us, compose an interesting portion of the 
subjects of the delightful contemplations, which will to eternity go 
on among the pure spirits before the throne of God ; and which 
are to unite them in the love and adoration of God for ever. 

4. In all our studies we should habitually keep in mind the 
supreme authority of the decisions which the word reveals, re- 
specting trudi. The moment you open your bible, you are vir- 
tually hearing God speak. God appeared, in a nnraculous man- 
ner, to many of his ancient servants ; asserted to them solemn 
truths, and gave them high commands. But the word of God, 
which we have, is his voice speaking to us, now, in all the reality 


and authority which attached to his audible addresses to Abra- 
ham, Moses, Isaiah, Paul, and John. Those direct "voices from 
the excellent glory," were given for a time only, as substitutes for 
the equally inspired and authoritative instructions of this holy and 
glorious book. 

The simple fact, that " Thus saith the Lord," on any subject, 
is enough. Our implicit faith is authoritatively claimed, to what- 
ever is thus authenticated. Our preaching according to it is sol- 
emnly enjoined. And the reasonings of our minds, as perplexing 
us respecting the decisions of the word, or as varying from those 
decisions, " one jot or tittle," have no right in our breasts, or in 
our pulpits. The intellectual and spiritual attitude of tlie holy 
Habakkuk was, " I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon 
the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me." 
Readiness of mind to receive the decisions of the sacred record, 
and watchfulness for the truth at the openings of the word, well 
become " ambassadors for Christ." 

Here is a danger, into which some good men, as well as oth- 
ers, have run, to the disadvantage of the cause of truth, to their 
own injury, the embarrassment of Christians, and the destruction 
of others. 

The temptation is a very subtle one, to let the researches of 
our reason, ere we are aware of it, run belore the testimony ol 
revelation ; and finally, to let the decisions of reason come into 
competition with the decisions of revelation. Aii affecting case of 
this, in a good man, was that of the venerable and pious Dr. 
Watts, in the latter years of his life. Let any minister, who is 
fond of thinking and writing widi his bible shut, read Dr. Watts's 
" Solemn Address to the ever-blessed God, on a review of what 
he had written in tlie Trinitarian controversy ;" and see how a 
Christian and a minister may perplex himself, and become almost 
deprived of his hope in Christ, and of his confidence in the decis- 
ions of the bible, by running into adventurous speculations, and 
letting his pride of opinion and reason quarrel with his heart, and 
with the positive and holy declarations of the word of God. In 
like nunincr have other men, on other religious doctrines and 
points of doctrine, bewildered themselves and others ; interfered 


with the firnmess of their own belief, and that of others, in the 
truth ; with the growth of piety in their own hearts, and the hearts 
of others ; with the comforts of their own hope, and the hopes of 
others ; and with tlieir own charity towards those who have been 
compelled, from love to the truth, to differ from them. 

On the danger which we are considering, I once heai-d an em- 
inent scholar and minister, of our own time and country," remark, 
" When I keep to the bible, in my inquiries on divine truth, I am 
on a rock, — a firm foundation. But when I indulge in the adven- 
turous speculations of my own reason, I am at once, out at sea, 
without chart or compass." 

AU'ecting illustrations of the dangers of a fondness for adven- 
turous speculation, in a thoughtlessness of the authority of the 
scripture testimony, we have seen, in some distinguished errorists. 
They began, probably, with preaching the truth. But, from in- 
dulging in such speculations, growing confident in their own theo- 
ries, and ultimately taking reason or an erroneous philosophy, for 
their guide, they first unsettled tlieir own minds respecting some 
one truth ; tlien gave up one truth after another ; till they renounc- 
ed the Christian faith, as to all its important and distinguishing 
features ; and finally gave up the bible itself. " Let him that 
thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." 

In the cases of such, the way w-as, doubtless, prepared for a 
defection from the truth, in their having never " received the love 
of the truth." Paul gives some fearful premonitions respecting 
such. " For this cause" (i. e. their not having received " the 
love of the truth,") God shall send them strong delusions, that they 
may believe a lie." We see such men spend their lives, " ever 
learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." 
It is no matter of mystery; for they reject the guidance which God 
offers them, by his own word and Spirit. " Seducing spirits," in 
their own breasts, in other men, and from the ranks of the great 
deceiver, lead them astray. 

A strange and melancholy process it is, by which many a man 
is seduced into error. He cautiously, timidly, and slowly, but inge- 
niously, cunningly, and decidedly, rejects the truth. He learns to 
lake pleasure in the unrighteousness of error, and in the pride of 


having made some supposed discovery of new light, — which may 
prove to be, as an eloquent preacher once remarked, only a "new 
edition of old darkness." 

He professes to be in the earnest pursuit of truth. But, with 
the very book of God m his hands, — the pride of human reason 
in his heart keeping him from using it, — he " gropes, like the 
blind,"^-" gropes as if he had no eyes," and " stumbles at noon- 
day, as in the night." In the progress of time, it is found that he 
has gone away on the circuitous path of error, till he has turned 
his back on God, the truth, and heaven ; and he is far on in the 
way downward to the terrible " portion of unbelievers." If he 
be in the sacred office, and possess any influence, he goes not 
alone on that path, l^e becomes a blind leader of the blind ; and 
makes, with a crowd of precious souls, who ought to have been 
saved through his instrumentality, the fearful plunge into ruin and 
woe eternal. 

It is by no means to be the opinion of the Christian student and 
minister, that the scripture forbids the use of reason, in matters of 
religion. It invites, yea directs us, to " prove all tilings ;" and 
apostolic example, especially, illustrates and enforces this direc- 
tion. But the word of God requires still, that human reason shall 
perform its office in its proper sphere. On " the things of God" 
reason is bound to use, and supremely rely upon the logic of the 
bible ; and should never presume to run before the word, or away 
from it, in search of truth, by its own dim taper-light. God re- 
quires in his ministers, — and how reasonably, — the implicitness 
and humility of faith. It is alike our duty and our privilege, to 
"sit at the feet of Jesus, and hear his word," as that alone which 
can inform us wiiat he would have us believe, do, and teach. 
While we industriously use our reason, in its proper work of study- 
ing the testimony of the word, and please ourselves with making 
progress in knowledge, and with grasping after better and better 
acquaintance wiih the great eternal truths of revelation ; still are 
we to look narrowly for that limit to the curiosity and adventm-ous- 
ness of the human mind, where God has written, " Thus far shalt 
thou come, and no farther." 

Nor do the scriptures place any unreasonable restraints upon 


the right of free inquiry ; about which so mucli has been and is 
still said. What is this right of free inquiry, in matters of relig- 
ion ? If I do not mistake the spiiMt of the divine instructions, it is, 
the right which you have to study the bible as much as you 
please, — and your inclination never can exceed your duty in this 
matter ; — and your right to study it as independently as you 
please of the interpretations of other men, except as they agree 
with the tenor and spii'it of tlie word itself; to find in it all the 
truth you can ; to believe all the truth you find in it, and not a 
particle more; and all this under responsibility to but one Being in 
all the universe, to Christ, the " King of Ti'uth." But to Him, 
remember that your responsibility is solemn ; and that it is to be 
accounted for at his final tribunal. 

5. We should accustom ourselves to place a high value upon 
the scriptures, as the only satisfactory source of argument, on all 
the great subjects of religion. From the habits of mind, and 
modes of discussion, sometimes seen in the pulpit and the theo- 
logical chair, it seems to be the opinion of some, that their strength 
in argument and skill in persuasion cannot be shown, and the sub- 
ject in hand properly set forth, unless they draw out a chain of 
abstract reasoning ; — as if the scripture views giv^n of the doc- 
trine were old fashioned, trite, and not affording sufficient range 
for their powers. 

Now, has God, in giving to men his announcements of truth, 
and the reasons for their faith, on any matter of doctrine, set forth 
his mind with a feebleness inviting the rivalry of man's powers of 
argumentation ? Is it the reasoning of man, ever so ingenious, 
that carries conviction to the conscience and heart of the sinner ? 

It becomes us, my brethren, to guard, faithfully, against an 
undervaluing of the scripture arguments, with which we are called 
to press the understandings and consciences of men. " Be not 
wise in your own conceit ;" " Cease from thine own wisdom ;" 
says the word, to every minister. Never sit down to study, never 
enter the pulpit, in proud reliance upon your own mental 
strength. It requires the might of the greatest human mind, to 
set forth, in a suitable manner, what God has said, as disclosing 
the means for producing conviction ; without spending time or ef- 


fort for the invention of curious reasonings of your own, with 
which to entertain your hearers. That reasoning is the reasoning 
from which men find it hopeless to attempt an escape, which is 
derived from the scriptures. 

Look at Paul's feelings and practice on this point. How 
cautious was he to bind himself, m all his researches and preach- 
ing, to the sacred, beautiful, and sublime simplicity of divine 
truth. How did he deprecate " leaning to his own understand- 
ing," and bringing man into the work of God ; either in the con- 
struction of his arguments, or the manner of his preaching. 
" When I came to you, brethren," says he to the Corinthians, " I 
came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto 
you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any- 
thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified ;" " And 
my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of 
man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of pow- 
er ; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in 
the power of God." Again says he, " For Christ sent me to 
preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of 
Christ should be made of none effect." Among ministers of 
Christ, eminent and well worthy of our imitation, stands this apos- 
tle, as devoting his great mind to the simple, childlike reception of 
the testimony of Jesus ; and a like simple and heart-enlivening 
exhibition of it in all his instructions. We see litde of Paul, — the 
man. He hid himself behind his subject ; and in reasoning wnth 
his fellow men, devoted " all his heart, soul, mind, and strength," 
to placing before them, with the eloquence of unaffected piety, the 
simple truth, and the ineffable glory of " Christ Jesus his Lord." 

6. Another thing concerned in the direction of our text, is 
what Paul calls " rightly dividing the word of truth ;" by which 
we may understand him, preaching upon, — and of coui^se princi- 
pally studying in private, — the subjects for which the character 
and circumstances of our hearers call most ; and which are prom- 
inent on the sacred pages. 

Curious points of inquiry, having no important practical bear- 
ings, may be started, even in reading the scriptures, and especially 
by a fanciful mind ; which, it would seem, no man, of common 

sense need be told it is inexpedient to spend time in agitating, any 
where, and above all, in the pulpit. It would be easy to give a 
numerous catalogue of questions vvhich have been brought for- 
ward for discussion, and which have been subjects of warm dis- 
putation in the church, in past times, besides many agitated at the 
present ; the real importance of which, — with all due deference to 
some great and good names, — seems, to say the least, very ques- 
tionable.* Many a man has made for himself some point, or set 
of points, of curious inquhy ; and made them too, perhaps, divid- 
ing points between himself and other men ; has magnified them 
into disproportionate importance, by long contemplation of them ; 
and has contrived to bring them forward in almost all his preach- 
ing ; who, if he could be persuaded to stop thinking and preach- 
ing upon them, for a few years, and then go to the prayerful, 
teachable, and candid searching of his bible, would find that the 
bible eitlier says nothing about them, or that it shews them as of 
minor importance, in comparison with most others. It would be 
an easy matter for a mmister to spend his life, and the strength of 
his talents, in discussing a long catalogue of such curious points ; 
at the bottom of which catalogue a good man's heart would in- 
cline him to write — What is the use of discussing such subjects? 
— ^points, in agitating which, a minister would not be in the way to 
establish one important article of the Chi-istian faitli ; nor to touch 
one heart, nor to arouse one conscience, nor to " convert a sinner 
from the error of his way." Did Paul preach upon such sub- 
jects ? Did our Lord Jesus Christ ever trifle in this manner ? 
Talk upon such points to an unconverted man, who is inquiring, 
in deep solicitude, " What shall I do to be saved ?" — is this what 
he needs ? Preach upon them in a congregation, where the Holy 
Spirit is quickening the people of God, and awakening the uncon- 
verted ; are tliese the subjects which will minister to " godly edi- 
fying," and lead sinners to repentance ?f 

The great and fundamental subjects of divine revelation ; the 
instructions which stand in one way or otlier connected with the 
great system, " Chi-ist crucified ;" which are essential in our sys- 

* Note A. Appendix. t See Appendix, Note B. 



tern of laiili as Cliiistians, and are designed lo influence our char- 
acters and manner of life ; the instructions which shew us God in 
his glory ; ourselves in our guilt and unworthiness ; the will of 
God, and our duty ; the subjects on which we feel, and over 
which we want to pray ; and which, like the omnipresence of 
God, are with our thoughts every where ; the subjects which are 
practical in their character ; and which, from this cii-cumstance, 
find their way to men's hearts and consciences, and are likely to 
have effect, soon or late ; the subjects, in a word, on which it is 
not safe for our hearers to be in ignorance, mistake, or error : — in 
setting forth these matters of instruction, are we " rightly to divide 
the word of truth." There may be ten thousand provable propo- 
sitions, invented by a curious student of the bible, or a wrangling 
theologian, which are capable of being discussed, ably and inge- 
niously, in the theological chair, or the minister's meeting ; and 
belonging there, if any where ; without a knowledge of which pro- 
})Ositions a sinner may " be saved." But there are numerous, 
great, essential, and solemn truths and duties, inscribed on the 
pages of the bible, as with a sun-beam ; without a knowledge of 
which, a sinner certainly will " be damned." A minister who 
spends his time on the first, may perhaps be a good man, and may 
be " saved, so as by fire ;" but he certainly misjudges in regard 
to this matter. Many a dying sinner, sitting under his ministry, 
will slide away down to perdition, unhindered by his most able 
and ingenious discussions of such subjects. A serious declaration 
of God it is, respecting such, truly, " his blood will I requii-e at 
the watchman's hand." On the odier hand, a minister who de- 
votes his time, talents, and opportunities to the instruction of his 
people on die last named class, — and tlicy are enough to occupy 
a longer life than was ever yet given to man, — he is " a workman 
needing not to be ashamed ;" he will see the glory of Christ, and 
the salvation of men, through his own instrumentality. 

In a word, die shortness and unspeakable preciousncss of the 
time which any minister has, in which to labour for die divine glo- 
ry, and tlic salvation of men, forbid that he spend it in mere grave 
and ingenious trifling ; and demand diat he should faithfully im- 
prove it, in bringing forward as many as possible of die great and 


inipoitant subjects of divine revelation ; and as few as possible of 
nice pouits of speculation : that he should preach as much of " the 
unsearchable riches of Christ" as he can have time to preach, on 
this side of heaven. 

In pursuing the examination of this subject, we consider, as 
was proposed, 

II. Some of the reasons for using such matter of public in- 
sti'uction, as is enjoined in the text. 

1. We briefly notice a few reasons, of a general character, in 
which all are concerned, who attend upon tlie preaching of the 
gospel ; especially those who have not yet submitted their hearts 
to its saving efficacy. 

Great importance is attached to the knowledge of divine truth 
in the scriptures themselves. For this knowledge hearers depend 
much, — oftentimes too much, — on dieir ministers. But that de- 
pendance must be faithfully answered. 

The character of a people, for intelligence in religious things, 
depends upon it. According as we preach, or withhold, the 
word ; and according as, on the one hand, we preach it simply, 
definitely, plainly, pointedly, fully ; or, on the other hand, preach 
it indistinctly, circuitously, partially, or adulterated by " carnal 
contrivances ;" so will it be with our hearers. Look for the min- 
ister, in the state of his people's minds, as to intelligence ; if he 
has had opportunity to do his work for a reasonable length of 
time ; for, in most cases, the character of his ministry, will be 
more or less visible. 

One great object of God in sending tlie Holy Spii'it into the 
world, is to mform men's minds and hearts respecting the truth. 
He " opens their understandings, that they may understand Uie 

VVe are to tell men, among otlier things, that they must " be- 
lieve." But we lay no foundation for dieir faith, except in a full 
exhibition of " the word of truth." 


The preaching of the word is that alone which will keep its 
hold on men's consciences, and constrain them to feel some inte- 
rest in the concerns of the life to come. This is popular preach- 
ing with the consciences of men ; and that, many times, when feel- 
ings of o])position to it arise in their hearts. Here is probably one 
explanation of the singular fact, that after Paul's first arousing ser- 
mon in the synagogue at Antioch, " the Gentiles besought that 
these words might be preached to them the next sabbath ; and 
the next sabbath day came almost the W'hole city together, to hear 
the word of God." Popular preaching, my brethren, is the faith- 
ful declaration of the " counsel of God." Unconverted men will 
often go away from hearing such preaching, uneasy and offended. 
But their consciences, under the urgency of truth, will compel 
them to come and hear more of it. 

Tliis is the kind of preaching which awakens and fixes the at- 
tention of the thoughtless sinner ; strips the world before his eyes 
of its deceitful charms ; compels him to say to God, like the 
trembling Adam in Eden, " I heard thy voice." This it is which 
pricks him in the heart ; discloses to him his guilt, as a transgres- 
sor against God ; prostrates his pride ; drives him forth from his 
false refuges ; uncovers before him the abyss of destruction ; and 
makes him to cry, in consternation and agony, " What shall I do 
to be saved ?" This is also the preaching, — thanks be to God, — 
which points the sinner to the cross, to " the Lamb of God, who 
taketh away the sin of the world ;" to the " door of hope ;" to the 
great and eternal refuge of his soul from the wrath to come. 
This is the means by which faithful ministers prepare the w"ay for 
revivals of religion. Such preaching the Holy Ghost descends to 
bless, to the unconverted. Here was tlie instrumentality of the 
aposdes in the events of the " day of Pentecost." Here is the in- 
strumentality of ministers of the present day, in the events of these 
Pentecost months and years, in which many of the people of God 
rejoice. While, during such bright harvest seasons, many a min- 
ister " reaps in joy ;" by the testimony of converts respecting his 
preaching of the word, he is pointed back to the past days and 
years, in which, he remembers, that under clouds and discour- 
agement, l;e went forth, with a heavy heart, " bearing precious 


seed," and " sowing it in tears," which Ills Lord and Master, he 
now finds, had determined should not be lost. 

2. There is another class of reasons, in which our fellow Chris- 
tians, sitting under our ministry, are more especially concerned ; 
and in which are disclosed some of the great results of our labours 
for the church of God, in distinction from the world. 

Preaching the word assists to make enlightened Christians. 
It is communicating to them the best of all learning and wisdom. 
It assists them to take rational views on all the great subjects 
which concern the eternal life of men ; and to be clear in their 
conceptions of them. It helps them to know what they are to be- 
lieve, and why they are to believe it. They may be " babes" in 
the knowledge of speculative niceties ; but under the preaching of 
the word they will have knowledge which is " hid from the wise 
and prudent." On " the things of the kingdom of God," they 
become well informed, think justly, discriminate accurately, and 
reason correctly and conclusively. They acquire an educa- 
tion in the school of Christ, by which their minds become, in the 
best sense, enlarged and elevated. It is both surprising and de- 
lightful, to see how much the simple preaching of the word does, 
for the intellectual as well as moral elevation of many a humble 
disciple of Christ. 

Preaching the word of Christ assists to make practical Chris- 
tians. For in so doing, my brethren, we speak of things which 
are not to be, in God's children, matters of that knowledge which 
" puffedi up," or to remain in the mind as a dead letter ; but 
which are to have an influence on their characters and lives. 
Preaching the word is spiritual, distinguishing, searching, serious 
preaching ; and therefore assists to make " the padi of the just as 
a shining light." It promotes faithfulness in duty, circumspection 
in conduct, diligence in the Christian course. We set before them 
instructions, which, if spiritually discerned, will have a directing, 
quickening, and sanctifying influence ; preparatory to our " pre- 
senting every man perfect in Christ Jesus." Our preaching, in 
the pulpit is thus again preached to the men of the world, in the 
practical godliness of Christians. Thus also we can enter into 
the holy satisfaction of Paul, when, referring to the exemplary 


character of his Corinthian hrethren, he says, " Ye are our epis- 
tle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men ; forasmuch 
as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, minister- 
ed by us ; written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living 
God ; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart ;" 
"great is my glorying of you." 

This is the kind of preaching which ministers to Christian ex- 
perience. We thus set forth that which God the Holy Spirit is 
pleased to bless, as a means, at first, of " creating men anew in 
Christ Jesus unto holiness and good works," and afterwards of 
great spiritual mercies, increasing Uiem in gifts and graces. Un- 
der such preaching it is, that we see those who have sensible and 
satisfactory experience of the " love of God shed abroad in their 
hearts ;" of " faith which worketh by love ;" of " godly sorrow," 
and yet of "joy and peace in believing ;" of hope, consolation, 
quickening, light, deliverance from the reigning power of sin, spirit- 
ual discernment of Christ ; and a rich inventory of other blessings, 
making the Christian happy, and preparing him to give honour to 
his Lord and Master. 

This Is the kind of preaching which ministers to the prosperi- 
ty of Christians. In the instructions of his word, " the Lord God 
hath given us the tongue of the learned, that we should know how 
to speak a word in season to him that is weary." In dispensing 
" the sincere milk of the word," we furnish that by means of 
which they " may grow." We "strengthen the weak hands, con- 
firm the feeble knees," and " say unto them that are of a fearful 
heart, be strong." Thus the people of God will prosper in die 
spu'itual manhood. " They shall mount up on wings as eagles ; 
they shall run and not be weary ; they shall walk and not faint." 
They will be assisted to " press toward the mark of tlie prize of 
their high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 

Instructions of such a character minister to the firm establish- 
ment of Christians. It is probable that one of the causes of feeble 
hope, partial satisfaction, and the suffering, by some Clu-istians, 
of spiritual infirmness generally, is, the failure of their ministers in 
regard to a clear, instructive, practical preaching of the word. 
Tlie great adversary takes advantage of partial and indefinite ex- 


hibitions, as well as of the entire concealment of the truth, and 
tile leaching of error ; to do injury to Christians, as well as to de- 
stroy the souls of unconverted persons. On the other hand, what 
is the secret of the spiritual firmness of some other Christians ? 
They have comparatively little darkness, few fears and doubts, 
and are successful in " fighting the good fight of faith." Through 
the preaching, as well as their private study, of " the word of 
Christ," and with that word " dwelling in them richly, in all wis- 
dom," they have become as " mount Zion, which cannot be mov- 
ed, but abideth for ever." Does an unbeliever seek to dispute 
vvitli such a Christian, and to ensnare him with the sophistry of 
error .'' The Christian can reason with the unbeliever " out of die 
scriptures ;" and that is reasoning which none can " gainsay or 
resist." An eminent civilian once remarked ; " In my early life, 
on a journey, I accidentally fell into the company of a plain but 
pious man, with whom I undertook to ai'gue in favor of infidel 
opinions, then fashionable; but I found that plain bible-read Chris- 
tian to be too mighty for me." 

Is the hope of such a Christian assailed ? — he is prepared to 
" give a reason of it." Through the means of such instructions, 
he is " built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Je- 
sus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." And all the 
skepticism in the universe cannot move him. 

This is the kind of preaching which ministers to the enjoy- 
ments of Christians. The word which we preach is " the word 
of faith," saith Paul," of " faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." 
By it, therefore, the acquaintance of Christians is assisted with 
" him whom their soul loveth." They are brought into a " fel- 
lowship with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ," in 
which they behold the divine glory, and feel the inspiration of 
their confidence. It assists the preparation of the believer to say, 
in the fubiess of his joy, " Yea doubtless, and I count all things 
but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my 

The Christian comes away from the cares, labours, perhaps 
trials of the week ; and enters the sanctuary to be fed, refreshed, 
quickened. We may set before him husks, the " wi^^doiii of 


words ;" the cogitations of ingenious minds united with cold hearts. 
In a text, used merely as a topic for an essay, we may bring for- 
ward a piece of bread, and ingeniously beat it out into impal- 
pable leaf, and set it before the pious seeker of spiritual food: and 
he will go away hungry ; for, after all, we have given him only a 
crumb, from our Master's table. Many a minister has probably 
preached at some times, a sermon, of which he was himself con- 
scious that something was the matter ; he was not satisfied with it 
himself, while he was preparing it, or preaching it ; and felt that 
he had not profited himself or otliers by its means. Perhaps 
this may be one difficulty ; it lacked the richness which the more 
careful use of his bible, in preparing it, would have imparted. 

There is a way of preaching, — and a prosperous state of relig- 
ion, in our own hearts, my brethren, will help us to know and 
practise it, — in which we may assist the children of God to feel, 
on the sabbath, that it is Christ's feast-day ; and in the sanctuary, 
that they are ui " his banquetting house." It is among the richest 
privileges of Christians, that under a ministry, of which it is a 
prime characteristic that it is a ministry of tlie word, they find 
" the sabbath a delight," and the sanctuary, " the gate of heaven," 
to their souls. Higher is tlie honour of such testimony, for any 
minister, that he thus "feeds the church of God," than is the hon- 
our of him who sits upon an earthly throne ; or whose talents, in 
the business of any station, however high, are the admiration of 
the world. 

This is the kind of preaching, which stands associated, in the 
minds of Christians, with the advancement of the kingdom of 
Christ and the salvation of soids. For the dispensation of the 
word every where, they pray ; and some of their most earnest de- 
sires are satisfied, when they see divine power and grace answer- 
ing their prayers. Thus it was with Christians in the days of die 
apostles. They caught, with lively interest, at the intelligence 
" that Samaria had received tlie word of God ;" " that the Gen- 
tiles had also'received the word of God ;" that " the word of the 
Lord was published throughout all the region" of Anlioch. The 
Gentiles, we are told, listened and were " glad, and glorified the 
word of tiic Lord." 


To glance only at a lew more reasons, of this class. What is the 
source of all light and comfort, respecting our future prospects ? 
Paul answers, " the word of the truth of the gospel." When was 
it that the early Christians " believed unto salvation ?" Paul 
answers again, " after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel 
of your salvation." And thus it is still. How is purification and 
holiness promoted, in the people of God ? Our divine Redeemer 
answers, in his intercessory prayer to the Father for them ; " I 
have given them thy word ;" " Sanctify them through tliy truth, 
thy word is truth ;" and says he to them, " now ye are clean 
through the word that I have spoken unto you." Moreover, that 
is one of the important conditions on which he recognizes the rela- 
tion of Christians to himself, — " if my words abide in you." 
What is it which indicates to the world the Christian's character ? 
Paul answers again, " Holding forth the word of life." What 
was it which caused the hearts of the two disciples, on the way to 
Emmaus, to burn within them, in a quickening of theii- holy affec- 
tions towards Christ ? It was while talking with them, he " open- 
ed unto them the scriptures." And what is it which ihe gracious 
taste of the children of God relishes ? David answers, " How 
sweet are thy words unto my taste ; yea, sweeter than honey to 
my mouth." And says Jeremiah, " Thy words were found, and 
T did eat them ; and thy word was unto me the joy and the rejoic- 
ing of my heart." All of these reasons, bretliren, — and many 
more which might be mentioned, did not time fail, — urge us, and 
encourage us, to follow closely die precepts and examples set 
before us, on " giving ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of 
the wordy 

3. There is a class of reasons in which ministers diem- 
selves are specially concerned, as to their usefulness to oth- 
ers, and their own spiritual prosperity and happiness in their 

It was the express object of God our Saviour, in institut- 
ing the ministry, that it should be " the ministry of the word." 
Paul manifestly felt this, when he gave to Timodiy the di- 
rection in the text ; and when he asserted, " Christ sent me — 
to preach the gospel ;" " We are ambassadors for Christ." 


These and many other like instructions, and examples of holy 
men, should always be conscientiously considered by us ; es- 
pecially when tempted to " turn aside" to things " unprofitable 
and vain." 

God has especially and repeatedly enjoined it. To different 
messengers of his will, in different ages, he said, " Preach the 
preaching that I bid thee ;" " These things command and teach ;" 
" Speak all that I command thee ;" " Ye shall not add unto the 
word which I command you ; neither shall ye diminish aught from 
it ;" " The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream ; and 
he that hath my ivord, let him speak m^j word faithfully." Thus 
are we bound, — and we ought to rejoice in the bond, to consider 
it no restriction of mind, no imprisonment of intellect, — ^to devote 
our studies and preaching to setting forth, with the utmost simplici- 
ty, the mind of God ; dealing in the " perfect word." In the fear 
of God are we called to continual use of our bibles, in our studies, 
and in our instructions to dying men, both in public and private. 
We have not to decide the question — What shall be the gen- 
eral chai-acter of our preaching ? God has decided iliat matter. 
It is to be general, in its comprehension of all things which are 
able to " make men wise unto salvation ;" and particular, in our 
so preaching these things, as to " commend ourselves to every 
man's conscience in the sight of God." 

Would we be powerful preachers ? The omnipotence of "the 
mind of the Spirit" has been put forth on the pages of the bible, 
and furnishes us with matter for powerful preaching. All the force 
of human intellect that ever man has shewn, as unassisted by the 
inspirations of the Holy Ghost, when compared with the majesty 
and strength which the scriptures disclose, is, indeed, like the im- 
potence of man's mortal arm, compared with the omnipotence of 
God, who created, upholds, and moves all worlds. 

The enemies of Stephen " were not able to resist the wisdom 
and the spirit with which he spoke." Why ? Because he was 
" full of Aiith and of the Holy Ghost ;" the » Spirit of truth" was 
in him, and he set forth truth from the word of God, as well as 
under the teachings of inspiration. Paul " mightily convinced the 
•lews." Under the disadvantages of what some called " contemp- 


tible speech," how did he accomplish this ? in " shewing by ihe 
scriptures tliat Jesus was Christ." And in such matter of preach- 
ing was it that he made a Roman governor, upon his seat of of- 
fice, to " tremble." The secret of the eloquence of ApoUos was, 
that he was " mighty in the scriptures ;" he had a holy art of us- 
ing the bible in preaching ; — ^which we sometimes still see men 
possess, — a gracious skill in unlocking and bringing forth from 
" the word" its precious things. And our " Lord and Master" 
will see to it that those to whom we minister shall be satisfied with 
such preaching. 

Would we avoid the perplexities and unhappiness of pride, in 
regard to the matter of our discourses ? Our text shews us how 
this is to be done. Ministers are under temptation at some times, 
to feel solicitude respecting the opinions and judgements of men, 
on their preaching. And truly, if the main questions for a minis- 
ter were, ' How shall I impress men's minds with a conviction of 
my talents and mental superiority ? what shall I say to them out of 
" the visions of my own heart?" what subject or doctrine, of my 
own invention, shall I set forth ?' — then he might live in continual 
solicitude ; labour, to weariness ; wear out life, to no purpose ; die, 
and go to the grave and the judgement-seat, as unprepared for 
what is before him, as his hearers are likely to be, under his proud- 
ly originated instructions. If he do suffer his bible to lie unstudied, 
and use it only as a reading book, and collection of mottos for ser- 
mons, — or orations, more properly, — he will have trouble enough, 
from a proud heart, and from those invariable attendants of pride, 
" the fear of man," anxiety about men's applause, envy of the pop- 
ularity of others, and a train of other evils. His studies will be 
laboriously carried forward ; and his public labours performed un- 
der a bondage worse than Egyptian. 

But if, regarding yourself, as you really are, only as a messen- 
ger of God ; coming to men from sabbath to sabbath, to make 
known his will, not your own ; his truth, not your own dogmas ; 
his commands, not your own or other men's maxims ; — as coming 
to set before them " the faithful word ;" then, as thus taking your 
proper place, and discharging your proper office, you cut yourself 
off from temptation to the solicitude and self-flattery of pride. 


You will be able to maintain a frame like this, — ' I am but a mes- 
senger of God. I deliver what he has directed. When I can 
say on any subject, *' I have not shunned to declare the whole 
counsel of God," I am at rest. If men are pleased to call what I 
have delivered, " foolishness ;" or to tax me with want of genius, 
or of liberality of sentiment, or with having failed to " please 
men ;" I will leave all that with the Master " whom I serve." 
" My work is with the Lord, and my reward with my God." Let 
each sermon be studied with this direction inscribed upon your 
table, "Preach THE Word." Let the arrival of each sabbath 
find you with the faithfully prepared instructions of " the word," 
and ready thus to shew what the Lord has said. Thus prepar- 
ed for the day of preaching, enter the pulpit with this resolve, " I 
will go in the strength of the Lord," " in the fulness of the bles- 
sings of tlie gospel of Christ." Let not the thought enter your 
mind, ' What will men think of me ?' " It is not you that speak, 
but the Spirit of the Father that speaketh in you." You, as God's 
messenger are above the reach of men's captiousness, fastidious- 
ness, and contemptuous underrating of your talents, and cavilling 
at the doctrines you set forth. By the " foolishness of preach- 
ing," the " preaching of the word," " it pleases God to save tliem 
that believe." — " The foolishness of preaching !" said Paul, doubt- 
less quoting the contemptuous language of men who hated the 
Irudi. But how does he shew the \vonderfulness of the effect, as 
disproving the unworthy charge. No : that is not " foolishness," 
my brethren, which God, through our feeble instrumentality, 
makes to " convert the sinner." It is the " power of God ;" the 
almighty energy of the Divine Mind, acting on tlie minds of men 
with an efficiency which makes to appear as "nodiing and less than 
nothing," the boasted greatness and strength of the mightiest mind, 
unhumbled by the grace of God. Y''es, my bredu-en, — let us fill 
our sermons widi this which men are pleased to treat as " foolish- 
ness ;" and God, in his own time, will make it appear that we 
liave dealt in that which is " wiser than men."* 

Would we Jiavc the distinctive features of Christianity to be 
the distinctive features of our ministry, as a totally difierenl affair 

" Apjpendix, Note C. 


from a plausible, misleading, and rotten ministry of error? Preach- 
ing the word, directly, distinctly, " in simplicity and godly sinceri- 
ty," is the way lo make sure of this. The errorists of our day, 
in no one thing more frequently shew themselves to be the *' ene- 
mies of the cross of Christ," than in the fact that they have as lit- 
tle to do with tlie bible as they possibly can ; and that when they 
pretend to use it, they are mainly, and that with great pains tak- 
ing, occupied with endeavouring to explain it away from interfer- 
ing with their doctrines. 

Would we preserve, undivided, our forces, as defenders of the 
faith of Jesus Christ? Let us be united, as " the heart of one 
man," in preaching the word. 

Would we shut the door against the insidious incursions of 
error, and its advocates, into our churches, and against the bring- 
ing in of " questions and strivings, unprofitable and vain ?" — We 
are to " preach the word." This will prepare our hearers to dis- 
tinguish between truth and error. Moreover, nothing more per- 
j)lexes and confounds an enorist, tlian the testimony of the scrip- 
tures. This has been seen, cleai-ly, in the great contest " for the 
faith," which, in late years, has been going forward in our New 
England States. Some of the most influential advocates of a once 
popular, but now, we trust, declining heresy, have made very pre- 
cious confessions, indicating their conviction that they cannot get 
along with the bible, in any other way, than to place its authority 
and inspiration down on the same level with those of the writings 
of ancient headien. Nor does any thing so thoroughly disconcert 
the refined speculations of proposition-makers and philosophical the- 
ologians, who have any regard left for the authority of the scrip- 
tures, as, in discussions with them, to take the ground, "to the law 
and tlie testimony ;" and steadily, boldly, and seriously, to follow 
up the questions, " What is written in tlie law ? how readest thou ?" 
" What saith the scripture ?" There is such a sacredness in the 
testimony of the Spirit, in the word ; such an impressiveness in the 
authority of its decisions ; that it will put pride, in a conscientious 
man, to the blush. 

Would we have quiet minds respecting truths which are at- 
tended with a measure of mystery, and which shew us that there 


are " things of God" which lie beyond the reach of our knowl- 
edge ? A close adherance to the testimony of the word, in our 
studies and preaching, will secure to us and our hearers this bene- 
fit. While we become thus prepared decidedly to " speak that 
we do know ;" in the frankness and honesty which become hum- 
ble learners, we can also say, to those who question us, respecting 
things mysterious, we do not hidio, and therefore cannot tell. 
And if thus stopping where the bible stops cannot satisfy the spirit 
of unholy curiosity in others ; we can yet, witli reason and confi- 
dence, return their questions, and say, ' Do you know ? and can 
you tell ?' Many an unprofitable and perhaps impatient dispute, 
might thus also be avoided. 

Who have been most successful in defending the faitli, and 
their " praise been in the gospel, throughout all the churches ?" 
who, regarded with most confidence and affection, as "able minis- 
ters of , the New Testament ?" who, as most faithful pastors, in 
" feeding the flocks ;" and the most successful in " winning souls?" 
They are the ministers who have " preached the word ;" and who, 
in " contending for the faith," have drawn their arguments from 
the word ; and depended upon the power of the Holy Ghost ac- 
companying it, to convince men of the truth. 

Would we have a harvest to reap ? As die servants of Christ, 
we are to " sow the word," which he has pronounced to be "good 
seed." This will " spring up, and bear fruit ; some thirty, some 
sixty, and some an hundred-fold." All else is dead seed, which 
will never spring up ; or " tares," which will bring forth fruit unto 
deadi, and make fuel for eternal fire. 

Would we have our preaching such as will bear to be examin- 
ed, and tested as to its soundness and tendency to edification ? 
The word of God is " very pure ;" therefore the preaching of it 
will stand any test by which it may be tried. Our hearers are 
told to " take heed what they heai-." They are solemnly bound 
to do it ; not only in a humble reception of the truth, if that be 
preached, but likewise in a careful detection of error, if that be 
preached, in any manner or form. If hearers do their duty, 
preaching will be tested ; and there is no preaching but that of 
the ivord, which will bear the examination of faithful, serious, de- 


vout hearers, who are seeking spiritual profit. They have a right 
to expect that we shall come to them with the testimony of God. 
We pay a very poor compHment to their understandings and 
hearts, if we think we can indulge our pride of intellect and opin- 
ion, and put them off long and quietly, with our inventions and un- 
profitable refinements. Then* Judge and ours is righteous. He 
has said, " Feed the flock of God." To " the shepherds," 
through whose neglect of this injunction the " diseased" are " not 
strengthened," the " sick are not healed," the " broken" not 
" bound up," " that which was driven away" not " brought back," 
and " that which was lost," not " sought ;" — to such shepherds it 
is a solemn reproof, " Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the w^ord 
of the Lord ; thus saith the Lord God ; Behold I am against the 
shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause 
them to cease from feeding the flock ; neither shall the shepherds 
feed themselves any more ; for I will deliver my flock from their 
mouth, that they may not be meat for them." 

Would we review our past labours, from time to time, with sat- 
isfaction ? We must prepare the way for it, by acting on this in- 
struction. The apostles, in looking over their numerous fields of 
labour, were able to speak of them, with satisfaction, as the places 
" where," say they, " we have preached the word of the Lord." 
And says Paul, in his farewell interview with the elders of Ephe- 
sus, " I take you to record, that I am pure from the blood of all 
men ; for I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel 
of God :" an appeal which every messenger of God should be 
prepared to make, with that holy confidence which is inspired by 
having been faithful. 

Would we be on a course which will carry us entirely away 
from tlie latitudes of unimportant, nice, perplexing, useless, and 
worse than useless discussions and controversies, either with one 
another, or the enemies of the truth ; and would we be safe from 
the entanglements of errors, small and great ? Our wisdom is to 
study and preach the word. The bible, prayerfully studied and 
faithfully preached, never yet set Christian ministers to doting 
about " questions and strifes of words," or contending for any 
thing of less importance than truths which lie at the foundation of 


the Christian S3'stem, and of the Christian's hope.* There is a 
dehghtful liarmony, on all fundamental truths, among those who 
study and teach the bible with a right spirit. 

Life is short, brethren. Go foith and preach the word as 
your great business ; and God will so bless it that you will be sav- 
ed the trouble of much controversy. Be cautious of shewmg too 
much attention to the theories and dogmas of speculatists. Cul- 
tivate that independence, allied with faith in the testimony of God's 
word, and that Christian simplicity and holy energy of character, 
which shall prepare you to move forward in the study and decla- 
ration of God's counsel, unhindered by any of the skeptical ques- 
tion-making and hair-splitting, with which philosophy, " falsely so 
called," may seek to hinder the great work. 

Contend earnestly for " the faith once delivered to the saints ;" 
but let this be done rather in the continual discharge of the artille- 
ry of "the word." This is the regular warfare, ordained by 
Christ, to continue to " the end of the world ;" and the " wea- 
pons" of it are destined to prove " mighty through God to the 
pulling down of the strong holds." 

We can only glance at other considerations, belonging to this 
part of our subject. — The minister who preaches the word, is em- 
ployed on " God's thoughts." What exalted subjects for contem- 
plation ! How rich in instruction ! " As the heavens are high 
above the earth, so are God's thoughts above our thoughts." In 
the contemplation of these, he rises toward the everlasting throne. 
He is spending his time and talents to the best purpose, because 
on subjects best adapted to the great ends of the ministry. He is 
acting in his proper capacity, as a messenger of God. He is in 
no man's catalogue of adherents, who prides himself as being the 
architect of a theory or a systpfn ; for he is an adherent to no sys- 
tem but that entitled, " Christ Jesus and him crucified." He gets 
bewildered in no mists of false philosophy ; and therefore enjoys 
a prosperous establishment in the truth. He is never in want of 
subjects on which to preach ; for he has a bible full of subjects ; 
and ample instruction there, too, upon them all. In his preaching, 
he is continually making deposits of solid, efficacious truth, in the 

* Sec Note D. Appendix. 


mindt> and iiearls ol' his hearers ; and is lieipiiig on that progress 
of knowledge aiid conviction of the truth, by the preaching of ev- 
ery sermon, which he may hope that the Holy Spirit will make 
effectual to salvation. He is answering the dictates of his own 
conscience, and of grace dwelling in his heart ; is acting from love 
to Christ, and to his fellow men ; is in the way to " both save 
himself, and them who hear him ;" and is preparing to render his 
account, as a " steward of die mysteries of God." 

Looking forward, by the light of truth, to the scenes of the 
judgement aiid of eternity, two other considerations present them- 
selves, in wdiich are concerned both the " ambassadors for Christ" 
and those to whom they are sent. 

We are forewarned that tlie instructions dispensed in this 
state of probation are to come into reference and use, in settling 
the decisions of tlie final judgement. " The word that I have 
spoken," — said Christ, respecting him who receives it not, — " the 
same shall judge him, at the last day." John, in describing his 
vision of the judgement, writes,- — " and the books were opened." 
It is a thought, my brethren, which should ever be present to our 
minds, that the bible will come into solemn use on that great day, 
as the book out of which ministers have been directed to preach, 
and their dying fellow men to hear, the instructions of " Him with 
whom we have to do." 

And, on the preaching of the word, God has suspended, in a 
solemn manner, the eternity of our hearers, as well as of our own 
souls. " For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, both in 
them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one we are 
the savour of death unto death ; and to ihe other the savour of 
life unto life." It is an intimate, a solemn connexion, \^hich the 
studies and preaching of every minister have, widi the eternal joy 
or wretchedness of both himself and his people. When therefore 
he sits down in liis study, to prepare for the pulpit, well does it 
become him to think " how dreadful is this place !" When, on 
the sabbath, he enters his pulpit, to deliver the messages of God's 
word, with what emotion may he again take up the thought, and 


say, " How dreadful is this place !" And when, under the sol- 
emn responsibilities which will have accumulated, from the instruc- 
tions of the word, they shall "stand before the judgement seat of 
Christ," with a joyful or terrible eternity before them ; oh ! then 
will both minister and people once more feel " How dreadful is 
THIS place /" 



Some specimens of curious questions, which were gravely debated in for- 
mer times, are given by a late lecturer on intellectual philosophy, and well il- 
liistnite the point under consideration. After giving several questions in the 
department of intellectu<al philosophy ; he states a few which wore debated in 
the departments of morals and natural theology. — " In morals, Whether ethics 
were an art or a science .-' — Whether, if the mind had freedom of choice, tliis 
independent will, be an entity or a quiddity .■" — Whether we should say, -with a 
dozen schoolmen, tliat virtue is good, because it has intrinsic goodness ; or, 
with a dozen more, that it has this intrinsic goodness because it is good. — In 
natural theology, Whether angels pass from one point of space to another, 
without passing through the intermediate points ? whether they can visually 
discern objects in the dark .'' whether more than one can exist at the same mo- 
ment in the same physical point ? whether they can e.xist in a perfect vacuum, 
with any relation to the absolute incorporeal void ? and whether, if an angel 
were in vacuo, the void could still truly be termed perfect? With respect to 
the Deity, — whether he exist in imaginary space as much as in the space that 
is real .' whether he can cause a mode to exist without a substance .-" whether, 
in knowing all things, he know universals, or only things singular.' and 
whether he can love a possible unexisting angel better than an actually exist- 
ing insect." Sec Brown's Lectures on tiie Philosophy of the Human Mind, 
Lect. I. 

To tliese topics of discussion it would be easy to add others, of later times ; 
some of whicli are emphatically " foolish and unprofitable ;" and others of 
them, from the irreverent approaches which they make to the divine attributes, 
may with strict propriety be termed profane. 

As touching this general subject of curious questions, Cecil has also some 
very just remarks, in the introduction to his sermon on Luke ii. 13, 14, enti- 
tled " The Song of Angels." 

" It is a lamentable consideration, how little man is disposed to consider 
those special and important truths, which God has revealed to him for his 


" In respect to the passage before us, tor instance, a Philosoplier reads it : — 
' Now,' says he, ' let us inquire whether this was an impreBsion made on the 
minds of these shepherds, or whether it was an actual vision presented to 
them :' and thus he spends his tirae in empty speculations. A Painter reads 
the passage : — ' I could very much wish,' says he, ' that I had been there, to 
have caught an idea from that scene.' A Musician reads it : — ' I should ex- 
ceedingly like,' says he, ' to have heard this liarmony, and to have examined 
how far it agreed with our present rules :' but since this is impossible, he sits 
down, turns it into music, and puts it into a song ; not considering what impor- 
tant lessons it contains. A critical Divine reads it : — ' This,' says he, ' is a sin- 
gular event ; and it will lead me to consider the ministry of angels, and wheth- 
er it has totally ceased in our day or not.' 

" Thus men trifle with the Word of God ! A real Christian alone makes 
a proper use of such a passage. He asks his conscience, ' What am I to learn 
from this ? What instruction and encouragement does it afford ?' " — Cecil's 
yVorks, Vol. II. Sec. XVII. 


Great importance is sometimes attached to merely speculative points in 
tlieology, on which it is difficult to find any express instructions in the bible. 
This latter fact, too, — lack of light from the scriptures respecting them, — we 
occasionally hear confessed, by those who agitate such points. Now the si- 
lence of the bible, on many such subjects, is doubtless to be regarded as an in- 
timation that wo are not to attempt to pry into them ; they being, for wise rea- 
sons in the Divine Mind, shut up from our knowledge. On many other sub- 
jects, we may doubtless regard the silence of the bible as the divine attestation 
of their insignificance, and destitution of practical importance to us. We may 
rest assured, that the scriptures set forth, in no doubtful language, every doc- 
trine and point of doctrine, and every duty, with which we have any particu- 
lar concern ; and shew, by the manner in which it is presented, the measure of 
importance to be attached to it, in our studies and public instructions. We 
commit sin, by giving to points of discussion which we, in the spirit of curious 
research, may originate, greater prominence than to the plain and essential 
truths and precepts on which God has been pleased to make explicit and re- 
peated declarations. Moreover, a minister ought not to be willing to waste his 
time in inventing propositions, on any subject upon which the scriptures give 
no information. 

Piiilosophy, it is sometimes maintained, in relation to such subjects, gives 
light upon them. Very well : add thera, — as new discoveries, — to the depart- 
ment of philosophy ; and call them philosophical subjects. But do not under- 
take to introduce them into the system of Christian theology ; nor bring thera 
into a place so sacred as the pulpit, for discussion. 



Said a pious woman, wlio deliglited much in the scriptures, and who was 
more than commonlj- happy in her religious experience — " VVlien I attend up- 
on the instructions of the sanctuary, I feel myself to have little concern with 
the person who occupies the pulpit. Tlie 7)iesmge of God to me, is that with 
which I have to do." This is as it should be. The messenger should be for- 
gotten in tho message. Our hearers ought to be so occupied with what we 
preach, as the icord of God, that tliey shall forget us. We should be humble 
enough to be entirely willing that they should so lose sight of us ; should 
pray that they may do this. But to this end, what pure truth, how full of the 
teachings of God, must our instructions be. Let not leanness in our discours- 
es, as to the presence of rich truth, and tlieir fulness with human inventions, 
compel hearers to see us, and that too as " preaching ourselves," and not 
" Christ Jesus the Lord." Paul, in expressing to some of those who had been 
blessed under his ministrations, his joy in them, says, " For this cause, also, 
thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God 
which ye heard of us, ye received it, not as the word of men, but (as it is in 
truth) tiie word of God, which etilctually worketh also in you that believe." 


It is by no means designed to enter an indiscriminate protest against con- 
troversy. There ever have been, and ever will be, occasions when the friends 
of truth must " contend earnestly for the faitii," assailed as it is in thousands 
of ways. If errors arc advanced, good men mu.«!t examine and expose them ; 
and set forth the truths which they are designed to subvert. It is a painful 
duty, but an indispensable one ; and the errorist is answerable for the sin of 
occasioning or creating a controversy. 

The remarks in the discourse have reference to those disputes which are 
originated, by pride of opinion, at first upon comparatively unimportant mat- 
ters ; and which, through the pertinacity of the originator, finally lead to long 
and troublesome controversy, and the introduction of heresy into the churches. 
It seems a device of the great Adversary, when an important contest for the 
faith is going forward successfully, to set some good man (if he can get a good 
man to do such a thing, so much tlie better for his purpose, and so much the 
worse for the cause of truth,) to bring forward a point of difference, small or 
great, — it makes not much difference which, — upon which the defenders of the 
faith may get into controvcrsj'. Thus is created a division of that strength 
which should have been put forth, undividedly, in contest with the enemies of 
the gospel. Heresy, in some new form, perhaps, springs up. Occasion is 
given to "our enemies" to "laugh among themselves;" and Satan laughs 
witli them at the success of his artifices. And Zion is made to mourn and weep. 



The general principles advanced in the preceding discourse, though having 
reference to tlie ministrations of the pulpit, obviously apply to the private re- 
ligious instructions, which ministers are called to give. Some of the best op- 
portunities to lead men to the knowledge of the truth, occur to the minister in 
the intercourse of private life ; and some of his most effective preaching may 
be done out of the pulpit. The right use of such opportunities, and the real 
benefit of his personal conversation upon religious subjects, will very much de- 
pend upon basing his counsels on the same foundation with his public preach- 
ing. There is an indefinite, prosing, sentimental way of talking upon religious 
subjects, wiiich will leave faint impressions, or none at all, on men's minds. 
For the same reason that a minister should avoid preaching indefinite, prosing, 
and sentimental sermons, sliould he also avoid such kind of conversation. 
Point, — the point of plain, simple, scriptural truth, — should mark religious 
conversation, as well as preaching. 

The unconverted man, uninterested iu the " things which belong to his 
peace," needs something to arouse and fix his attention. A single text of 
scripture, though simply uttered, may accomplish the object. The reader may 
have been informed of the efi^oct produced upon the mind of a young student, 
not of a religious character, by a minister's proposing to him, as a mathemati- 
cal question to be solved, the text: " For what is a man profited, if he shall 
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul .'' or wliat shall a man give in ex- 
ciiange for his soul.''" The caviller and errorist need to be convinced. It is 
the pride of such men, to draw a minister on to their ground, in a dispute or 
argument. Instead of contending with them, in the use of weapons like their 
own, a single arrow from Cod's armory, well aimed, — a single text of scrip- 
ture, having a direct and heavy bearing upon conscience, — will sometimes si- 
lence all flippant and reasoning unbelief. " For I will give you," said Christ, 
" a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay 
nor resist." The serious and troubled inquirer comes for friendly counsel. 
What he wants is, — not an}' man's opinions, in the way of theory, upon regen- 
eration, or the manner of a sinner's turning to God; but the plain, practical 
instructions of the word of God, — the light of the bible upon his path of 
duty ; to be told, '■' repent," " believe," " make you a new heart," " submit," 
" call )'e upon the Lord." The young Christian comes for counsel, in his en- 
trance upon hl.s new duties. The experience of Christians who have gone be- 
fore him, is instructive. But the affectionate, solemn, heart-stirring counsels 
of the scriptures, are what he needs, first of all. "Thy word," says David, 
" hath quickened me." The trembling and perplexed Christian wants assist- 
ance ; he is in the dark, is sorrowful, knows not what to think of himself. 
The bible furnishes precisely the counsels which his case requires. Speculat- 
ing with him, on the endless ways of self-deception, will only increase his dif- 
ficulties. And, on the other hand, reasoning with him, against his doubts and 
fears, will do him little, good. Open the biblo almost any where; in the writ- 


ings of David and Paul especially ; and your eye will light upon something 
which God the Spirit has said, applicable to just such cases. 

In like manner, for the backslider ; for the tempted soul ; for the Christian, 
bowing under tiie weight of temporal affliction ; for the Christian, anticipating 
" the bitterness of death," and about to descend into the grave; — for all these, 
are there ample, satisfactory, and safe counsels, in " tlie word." A minister 
having his memory stored with the bible ; and his heart made tender, and his 
mind wise, by the teachings of the Spirit accompanying the word ; can have 
his tongue to be " as the pen of a ready writer ; and be both a faithful watch- 
man, and a '• son of consolation" to the true children of God. 

A recent Christian poet, the heavenly-minded Pomok, — whose early de- 
parture from this life is mourned by all who admire and love talents consecrat- 
ed to " Christ and the Church," — has expressed so justly and impressively his 
sentiments on the restlessness and curiosity of the human mind, that the au- 
thor of this discourse is persuaded he need offer no apology for quoting them. 

" In mind, in matter, much was difficult 
To understand : but what in deepest nigla 
Retired, inscrutable, mysterious, dark, 
Was, evil ; God's decrees ; and deeds decreftd. 
Responsible. Why God, the just, and good, 
Omnipotent and, should suffer sin 
To rise. Why man was free, accountable; 
Yet God foreseeing, overruling all. 
Where'er the eye could turn, whatever tract 
Of moral thought it took, by reason's torch, 
Or Scripture led, before it still this mount 
Sprung up, impervious, insurmountable ; 
Above the human stature rising far ; 
Horizon of the mind — surrounding still 
The vision of the soul with clouds and gloom. 
Yet did they not attempt to scale its sides, 
And gain its top ? Philosophy, to climb 
With all her vigor, toiled from age to age ; 
From age to age. Theology, with all 
Her vigor, toiled ; and vagrant fancy toiled. 
Not weak and foolish only, but the wise, 
Patient, courageous, stout, sound-headed men, 
Of proper discipline, of excellent wind, 
And strong of intellectual limb, toiled hard; 
And oft above the reach of common eye 
Ascended far, and seemed well nigh tlic top ; 
But only seemed ; for still another top 
Above them rose, till giddy grown and mad. 
With gazing at these dangerous heights of God, 
Tliey tumbled down, and in their raving said, 
Thoy o'er the summit saw : and some believed , 
Believed a lie ; for never man on earth, 
That mountain crossed, or saw its farther side. 


Around it lay tlie wreck of many a Sage — 

Divine — Philosopher ; and many more 

Fell daily, undeterred by millions fallen ; 

Each wondering wh}"- he failed to comprehend 

God, and with finite measure infinite. 

To pass it, was no doubt desirable ; 

And few of any intellectual size, 

That did not sometime in their day attempt ; 

But all in vain ; for as the distant hill, 

Which on the right, or left tlie traveller's eye 

Bounds, seems advancing as he walks, and oft 

He looks, and looks, and thinks to pass ; but still 

It forward moves, and mocks his bafiled sigiit, 

Till night descends and wraps the scene in gloom ; 

So did this moral height the vision mock ; 

So lifted up its dark and cloudy head, _^ 

Before the eye, and met it evermore. 

And some provoked — accused the righteous God. 

Accused of what ? Hear human boldness now ! 

Hear guilt, hear folly, madness, all extreme ! 

Accused of wliat.^ the God of truth accused.' 

Of cruelty, injustice, wickedness ! 

Abundant sin ! Because a mortal man, 

A worm at best of small capacity, 

With scarce an atom of Jehovah's works 

Before him, and with scarce an hour to look 

Upon them, should presume to censure God — 

The infinite and uncreated God ! 

To sit in judgment — on Himself, liis works, 

His providence ! and try, accuse, condemn ! 

If there is aught, thought or to think, absurd, 

Irrational and wicked, this is more — 

This most ; tlie sin of devils, or of those 

To devils growing fast : wise men and good, 

Accused themselves, not God ; and put their hands 

Upon their mouths, and in the dust adored. 

" The Christian's faith had many mysteries too. 
The uncreated holy Three in One ; 
Divine incarnate ; human in divine ; 
The inward call ; the sanctifying Dew 
Coming unseen, unseen departing thence ; 
Anew creating all, and yet not heard ; 
Compelling, yet not felt : — mysterious these ; 
Not that Jehovah to conceal them wished ; 
Not that religion wished : the Christian faith, 
Unlike tiie timorous creeds of pagan priests. 
Was frank, stood forth to view, invited all, 
To prove, examine, search, investigate, 
And gave, herself, a light to see lier by. 
Mysterious these — because too large for eye 
Oi" man, too long for human arm to mete" 







^ Hreststertan. 



•♦ Should we conceive of the grand enemy, actually employing a 
band of men, concealed under profession of Protestants, (and we 
may do so for the sake of illustration, without offence) to lay open 
a secret road for Popery, into the very citadel of the Protestantism 
of England, we could readily understand that they would select the 
most gradual means, as the most effectual ; the most noiseless and 
unseen, as the most ensnaring ; that they would seem to be great 
opposers of Romanism, in some points, while insinuating it in others ; 
would break ground at a distance, where they would be least feared 
and remarked ; get their position fixed lu peace, ' while men slept;' 
then cautiously commence approaches, gradually familiarizing the 
watchers upon the walls with the sound of their working, and never 
putting forth a new approach, till the novelty of the former was for- 
gotten. We can readily conceive that the weapon of such a siege 
would not be as the Roman Catapult, hurling, in open day, its bolts 
and fiery darts. Some Christian Archimedes, with the bright mir- 
ror of the word, would soon burn up the engine and put the workers 
to confusion. But the weapon would be the fxck of ihc sapper, dig- 
ging at the base; and the foundation selected would be that of the 
bastion, which, while in reality the key of the fortress, is Zcas/ Ar/iotrn 
in that importance to the multitude, and therefore the least watch- 
ed ; and their object would be, like that of the gun-powder plot, 
under the Senate-House and Throne, to subjugate the whole, in the 
ruin of the head ; and could they only persuade some honored and 
trusted men of the city, under the sincere supposition, on their part, 
that they were only searching after hid treasures of Antiquity, or 
endeavoring to effect some useful restoration in the old walls of a 
venerable monument of ancient prowess, to do the digging for them, 
till they themselves could work unseen in the mine, it would indeed 
he great gain. By and by, it would be seen that a portion of the 
wall was fallen — then another, but each with such interval, that all 
lookers-on had grown familiar with the sight of the first dilapidation, 
before the second was permitted. By and by, that bastion is in ruins, 
and the city at the mercy of the enemy, but all has gone on vso grn- 
ilually and imperceptibly that it e.\cites but little apprehension." p. 30. 


•• With the return of Justification by Inherent righteousness, has 
come back the Romish Doctrine of the Nature and Office of Faith ; 
of the opu3 operatum of the Sacraments ; of Baptismal Justification ; 
of Original sin ; of Mortal and Venial Sins; of Sin after Baptism; 
with most evident and lamentable leanings, to say the least, towards 
the whole array of Romish Purgatory, Invocation of Saints, Pray- 
ers for the Dead, Multiplication of Sacramentals and of all external 
pomp and parade in Church services ; Transubstantiation, Miracle* 
working," &c. — " Why not expect the same results from the same 
circumstances, now as Well as in the early ages of the Church ? The 
way is as well prepared, the dead are alike prayed for, passages of 
Scripture are just -as favorably interpreted. Where is the barrier 1 
In Tradition, answers Dr. Pusey. All are to be held fast, where 
the ancient Church drifted upon a lee-shore, by the single anchor of 
Tradition, let down into the shifting sands of men's whims, and, ca- 
prices, and prejudices, and corruptions, assaulted on all sides by 
♦the Prince of the Power of the 'Air.' But had not the ancient 
Church that anchor better than we have it? Was not Tradition, in 
their day, more accessible, because they were so much nearer its 
head-springs; more simple and uncomplicated, and easily settled 
and readily used? How then if they were not held fast from driving 
upon the dark mountains of Purgatory, are we ever to be held to 
our moorings? Oh, no! Prayers for the dead, and the denial of a 
plenary absolution for sin after baptism, and the granting of a puri- 
fication in another world, all of which are attained already in the 
race of this divinity, pressing on to the prize of its high calling, 
must soon cross the invisible line that separates from Popish Purga- 
tory, and carrying Tradition along, bid it raise its voice, as it will 
easily find the excuse for doing, as the bold preacher of the doctrine, 
of which il was before the appointed antagonist." 

Bishop M^Ihaine, p. 534. 

«• To make the cross of Christ of none effect ; first, by making it 
foolishness to the Greek, and a stumbling block to the Jew ,* and 
then, when men would embrace it, by turning it into an idol, like 
the brazen serpent of a former age ; so that men, retaining the name 
of Christ upon their lips, and making the sign of the cross upon their 
foreheads, might be substituting a foundation of wood and stubble, . 
for «♦ Jesus Christ and him crucified;" their own cross, for his; an 
inward sacrifice, for the one oblation once offered by the Son of God ; 
this has been the grand effort of Satan, to which the errors and here- 
sies of every century of Christianity bear most impressive testimony. 

Bishop AVlhaine, p. 108. 

" And lo! another angel stood in heaven 
Crying aloud with mighty voice: Fallen, fallen, 
Is Babylon the Great — to rise no more ! 
Rejoice, ye prophets ! over her rejoice, 
Apostles! holy men, all saints, rejoice! 
And glory give to God, and to the Lamb. 
And all the armies oTdisburthened earth. 
As voice of many waters, and as voice 
Of thunderings, and voice of multitudes, 
Answered, Amen. And every hill and rock. 
And sea, and every beast, answered, Amen. 
Europa answered, and the farthest bounds 
Of woody Chili, Asia's fertile coasts, 
And Afric's burning wastes, answered, Amen. 
And Heaven, rejoicing, answered back, Amen." 

Pollock's Course of Time. 

" To those who shrink from controversial topics, and would shun 
all controversy, let it be said, in parting, it is not given to man. 
We hold the truth only by dint of never-flinching firmness. The 
price of religious, not less than civil, freedom is perpetual vigilance." 
— Bishop Doane, Bf. Ex. p. 160. 

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